There he was, unsure where to go but with a determined look on his face. He appeared at the office, said one of the Ezer Mizion directors, an eleven year old boy with Downs Syndrome, looking like he was on a mission. No one brought him to the Ezer Mizion building. He found it on his own, our single-minded hero, and all that remained was to accomplish his goal.
“Are you looking for someone?” I asked him.
“I want to say a giant ‘Thank you’ to Ezer Mizion for the Simchas Beis Hasho’eivah (holiday celebration) that you made on Succos (Feast of Tabernacles) . It was nice! I had so much fun.”
Touched to the core by his sincere words, I called in the rest of the staff and instinctively asked him to bless us. There he stood – a boy? an angel? – with his eyes closed, connecting to Hashem (G-d) in a way that we cannot conceive.
Ezer Mizion’s Children’s Division is a national resource that provides a vast array of services for handicapped and developmentally delayed children and their caregivers. The professional services and care offered enable the children to advance and reach their full potential.
The Children’s Division programs also help alleviate financial pressure, physical demands and emotional strain often experienced by children with special needs and their families.
In 1988, Ezer Mizion opened Israel’s first summer camp for children with special needs. Since then, the network of Ezer Mizion special needs summer camps has grown to include 7 camps, over 1,500 staff members and volunteers and over 1,200 children with physical handicaps, brain damage, cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome, autism, blindness, deafness and emotional disorders. For these youngsters and their families, Ezer Mizion’s summer camps are the highlight of the entire year.
The camps, called “B’Lev Sameach” – literally, “With a Happy Heart” – have a full schedule of exciting activities, outings and recreation from morning to night, with all meals and transportation included. The children enjoy live entertainment, trips to amusement parks, zoos, and beaches, and visits to the Kotel and other special places. All of the children are paired with individual counselors who shower them with one-on-one attention, care, and love.
Families of children with special needs also benefit greatly from the B’Lev Sameach summer camps. The camps operate when all other educational frameworks are closed to these children, who can be difficult to maintain at home. Caring for physically or mentally challenged children is often very taxing, and parents and siblings are grateful for the respite provided by the B’Lev Sameach camps. The camps allow parents to devote time to their other children and to themselves, making this a period of relaxation, rejuvenation and renewal for the entire family.